The Wailers play the Sundown Theatre in the village of Edmonton, North London on May 27, 1973 and again some time between August and October 1973 (no date available). The Wailers shared the stage with Matumbi, a popular British reggae band.
Originally constructed as Regal Cinema in 1935, the Sundown sported circular seating, a rotating stage, and could seat 3500.
The Sundown Experiment, which refers to the opening of 4 Sundown venues in England, opens in September 1972. In addition to Edmonton, there are also Sundown Theatres in Brixton, Miles End, and Charing Cross. According to Sundown owner John Conlan:
“Edmonton was the most successful venue, with the greatest longevity. It had an enormous capacity of 3,500 and had an incredible stage. It was always the best venue, and where many of the bands, like Elton John, wanted to play.”
The Crickets, Manassas, Slade, Deep Purple, Steppenwolf – all played the Sundown within the first three months of opening. At the same time it is hosting these phenomenal acts at night, the Sundown, Edmonton is transformed into a cinema by day.
After only four or five months of being open, the Sundown Experiment begins to fail. Why had it failed so spectacularly after hosting some of the most memorable concerts in the annals of rock lore?
“We simply opened too many and part of the plan was flawed,” believes Conlan. “We should have stuck with Edmonton.”
As for the Wailers’ performance that night in late summer/early autumn, author John Masouri describes it wonderfully in his most excellent book Wailing Blues: The Story of Bob Marley‘s Wailers:
“Marley is a vibrant, charismatic figure with his wild hair and tight trousers. He’s full of smiles as he strikes rock poses, playing around with the phrasing of certain songs and joining Tosh on a highly charged, semi-acapella version of “Get Up Stand Up”. Livingston is again hunched over his congas, and Lindo’s playing is more free form than Bundrick’s studio embellishments. It’s a joy to see him dancing behind his twin keyboards as the Barrett’s anchor proceedings with transcendent drum and bass. The sound quality is good too which must have made a welcome change.”
I have included video footage of a performance labeled Edmonton 1973. It is my understanding, based on talks with Marley historians that the performance took place at some point between August and October of 1973. According to John Masouri, there was no Bunny Wailer, no Joe Higgs, and the crowd absolutely loathed them.
The video footage has held up quite well. As with all of Marley’s captured performances, both audio and video, we are blessed to have the opportunity to witness greatness, and greatness like this only comes around once.
I must give thanks to my friends John Masouri, Josetxo Mintegi of www.bob-marley.es and Marco Virgona of www.bobmarleymagazine.com for clarifying the live performance dates.
Glad you cleared the date up.